Twitter. This is how this wonderful experience began: with a Tweet!
I love and adore the twitter of birds. But the Twitter of our social media definitely has it’s advantages. I met Bev Missing through Twitter. I smiled at some of her remarks. She ‘tweeted’ that she lived in Swellendam but often came up to George and promised to see me on her next expedition. We met up at The Mall in her beautiful shop, Rain. It sells a vast array of bath and body products. I began smelling the soaps and trying out various body creams. Bev interrupted the fun I was having by laughingly saying to me: “Come down to my factory. I will show you how everything is created. Afterwards you can go to the Rain Spa and sample it’s delights. Then you can really tell me what you think!”
I arrived in Swellendam to be met by a smiling Bev. “So pleased you made it. Come through, my team are all waiting to meet you.”
We walked into this large airy room. About a hundred pairs of eyes turned my way. The faces that greeted me were friendly, welcoming and open.
“I want you all to meet Gaynor Young. She used to be a singer and dancer. Gaynor, these workers begin each day by praying and singing these songs. Just listen…..”
They moved closer together, took a breath and began to sing. Sound is now so precious to me. I feel as if my ears have been thirsting for sound. Such a rich, harmonious melody greeted these sound craving ears of mine. Their first song Rain was a beautiful song, pleading for rain. The harmonies spun liltingly upwards. The second song was a joyful exuberant prayer called Amen. The rich cacophony of notes fell upon me like…yes, like rain onto a dried plant. Inside I seemed to grow fuller. They finished and the silence seemed to continue the sound. Reluctantly I broke it.
“Thank you seems the wrong thing to say but it’s the best thing I can think of. Thank you to all of you. You made me dance inside!”
Bev made us some tea and I looked around at this beautiful airy space, filled with people going about their business. “This is amazing, Bev! How long has this factory been going?”
As she poured me a cup of tea, she explained.
“Seventeen years ago we were living on the Lesotho border. Petty crime was on the increase. People were struggling to put food in their mouths. I wanted to start a business, a labour intensive business so that I could employ people. My hope was that by providing employment and therefore money it would help combat crime. I thought of making candles but there were already quite a few candle manufacturers. Then I hit on the idea of soap. It took two years for me to study the art of soap making and to learn about fragrances. This was a time when the Internet was nothing like it is now so gaining all the necessary information was painstaking. It all paid off and I opened my factory in Ladybrand. We then moved to Swellendam. This year is our fifteenth anniversary. Come, let me show you around.”
I was introduced to Byron who is blind. He had lost his sight due to Glaucoma. This was no long faced, “feel sorry for me” individual. On the contrary, I was greeted by a gentle, softly spoken man wreathed in smiles. He said I must be sure to stop off at his station. He would explain to me what his job entailed. He left us, independently moving across the factory floor, disappearing from sight.
The next hour was spent watching soap being formulated, dried, cut up into small segments, wrapped in beautiful paper and placed into gorgeous hand made, material covered boxes. I strolled across to where Byron was working. He was rolling soap into beautiful eggs. Each one was identical, perfectly sized. It’s strange how when one sense is lost your other senses come to the fore. Every Rain product from soap to lotions to slippers were created with such care and attention to detail. Even the cardboard cutoffs were recycled into new papier mache moulds.
“Rain. It’s a lovely name but what made you call it that?”
“Just think of rain. It’s life giving, cleansing and re-generative. What better than Rain?”
Yes, I thought, perfect!
Bev wanted to create something natural and organic. She is violently opposed to cruelty to animals. Smile – they would applaud the making of her soaps and fragrances!
I marvelled at the fact that all the jobs I saw being performed were done by hand. It would have been so much easier for Bev to have used machinery. It would have been quicker and more cost effective. But that is one thing I am learning about Bev. She doesn’t go the easy route. She is governed by principle. One of her primary aims was to provide people with work. And in true Bev fashion, she is staying loyal to that ideal.
After lunch Bev took me into town to sample the delights of the Rain Spa. I hope that when I am in Heaven there is a spa the likes of which I sampled at Rain! It is like entering a beautiful fragrant rain forest, the air is full of the smells and sounds of the jungle. Angelia worked on me, massaging my neck and shoulders with gorgeous oils. This treatment is called ‘The Rain Dance‘. I combined it with the ‘Affirmation Facial’. Do have any idea of the sheer bliss that was contained in those two hours? God’s own Angels would have battled to do a better job!
The care, delicacy and love which goes into preparing each Rain product is amazing. I came away from the Rain factory and Spa refreshed and filled with admiration for Bev Missing. And utter respect. I admire her for holding onto and maintaining her ideals. This is her way of fighting the crime in this country and helping to save our wonderful environment.
The love that is so clearly evident between employer and employee is breathtaking.
I know that I am going to enjoy being friends with Bev…….